Sacrament of Matrimony
The liturgy of the Sacrament of Marriage in the Church is full of beautiful symbols and blessings. Discerning this sacrament as a divine calling for you is more crucial than one’s consideration of many well-known social benefits of marriage. The Church believes and teaches marriage as “a special sacrament” for “the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity”  and “mutual help and service” between a baptized man and a baptized woman in the unique, life-long partnership of total and mutual self-giving love. Marriage and married love are by their nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, so that a man and a woman by their union in Christ are “no longer two, but one flesh” (Matt. 19ff).
 Liturgy of the Sacrament of Marriage.
 Gaudium et Spes, 48.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. We just got engaged! What should we do to get married in the Catholic Church?
Congratulations! The first step is to contact your local Catholic parish. If both of you are Catholic, you may contact either one of your parish priests. Your pastor will schedule a series of interviews with you both in order to prepare you pastorally for marriage.
2. Is completion of an approved marriage preparation program a requirement for getting married in the Catholic Church?
If you planned to be married in a parish within the Archdiocese of Toronto, yes, it is a requirement to complete an approved marriage preparation program.
3. How far in advance should the couple intending to be married speak to the pastor about their anticipated wedding date?
Couples should speak to their pastor at least twelve months in advance.
4. Is the celebration different if the bride or the groom isn’t Catholic?
To maintain consistency across the Archdiocese of Toronto, it is a policy that no Eucharist be celebrated for marriages between a Catholic and a non-baptized person. The celebration of the Eucharist at marriages between a Catholic and a validly baptized non-Catholic is discouraged.
5. Can ministers of non-Catholic Christian communities take part in a Catholic wedding?
Yes, and you must consult your priest for the arrangement.
6. Do Bible readings have to be part of the wedding liturgy?
Yes. There are many beautiful passages and themes from the list of the readings for the couple to consider together. Their priest will be able to help them find appropriate readings.
7. We have prepared our own vows and would like to use the ones we prepared, at the exchange of vows ceremony. Is this allowed?
No. There are many places for creative choice in the ceremony, but the content of the vows is for the validity of the act of entering marriage and therefore we ask that the given formula be carefully observed.
8. We have selected some well-known and meaningful pieces of music for our wedding. However, our Pastor will not allow us to use them.
In planning your wedding, you must consult the Pastor and the existing policy about music and the securing of musicians on your music selection. The Church has a rich repertoire of beautiful and suitable music and hymns. We are confident that with your Pastor’s help, you will find meaningful pieces of music for such a sacred event as your wedding celebration. Celebrating Matrimony takes place within the context of a liturgical ceremony, which is regulated by the Church.
9. Is it true that the Church doesn’t recommend that the bride’s father give her away?
Culture and family are very much part of the discussion in terms of the details of the celebration. Your priest will be able to speak to your particular situation.
10. We would like to be married in a Catholic Church in another country. How do we go about it?
The procedure to get married in a Catholic Church in another country or Diocese is similar to getting married locally. Please contact your local Pastor who will prepare you for marriage and instruct you to take the Marriage Preparation Course. The Marriage documents are then ‘transferred’ to the Parish of marriage in the other country via the Chancery offices of the respective Dioceses involved or by being handed back to you to send to the Diocese which you will be married in, months in advance of your wedding.
11. Could we get permission to marry outside the Catholic Church, for example, at a Banquet Hall?
A parish church is the ordinary place for the celebration of a marriage involving two Catholics or a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic. Since the marriage of two baptized persons is a sacrament, it is not merely a private or familial celebration but also an ecclesial event. The spouses declare their consent before God and the Church and live out that commitment in and with the support of the local ecclesial community. Therefore, this celebration should take place in the parish church. Exceptions are only made when there is a grave and urgent cause such as illness or danger of death.
12. I am Roman Catholic but my spouse-to-be is a non-Christian. To satisfy the wishes of both our families, we would like to have two wedding ceremonies, one at the Roman Catholic Church, and another ceremony to follow or precede, in the non-Christian Church. Is this allowed?
Canon 1127 §3 of the Code of Canon Law forbids a double celebration of the same marriage for the purpose of giving or renewing matrimonial consent.
13. I have been married before in the Catholic Church. I have made arrangements to get married in two months. Can a Catholic Priest marry us as scheduled?
We cannot guarantee that a Catholic priest can officiate your wedding. Generally speaking, betrothed couples are advised to make arrangement with their local Pastor at least one year before their tentatively planned date of marriage. If either of you were previously married, you must disclose that information to your parish priest who will consult the Marriage Tribunal about your situation: the Church maintains that the new union cannot be recognized as valid if the first marriage is valid. In addition, a special second marriage preparation course by Catholic Family Services of Toronto is mandatory.
14. Can we use Banns or do we have to be married by Marriage Licence?
A couple must be married by Marriage Licence. It is our policy to not publish Banns in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
15. We would like to have our wedding on a Sunday to accommodate our relatives who will be travelling from out of town for our wedding?
According to the particular law of the Archdiocese of Toronto (promulgated since 1971), weddings in the Catholic Church are not allowed to be celebrated on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation (January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and December 25, the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ).
To learn more about the Sacrament of Matrimony, these resources may help:
- Pope Francis:
- Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (337-350)
- Code of Canon Law (cc. 1055-1165)
- Catholic Family Services of Toronto
- Resources for Couples and Parishes, Archdiocese of Toronto
- Pontifical Council for the Family